WWE fans in London on Saturday will have to make way for the megastar when LA Knight steps into the ring as one of seven entrants in a Money in the Bank ladder match.
Money in the Bank, the premium live event named after the unique match, will see LA Knight, Logan Paul, Ricochet, Shinsuke Nakamura, Santos Escobar, Butch or Damien Priest climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase hanging above the ring . Inside the case is a contract that grants the winner the right to a WWE Championship match anywhere, anytime for up to one year.
LA Knight has gained a wave of popularity since he dropped his Max Dupri moniker when he was called up to WWE from NXT and reverted to his current name. His microphone skills have been praised by most pro wrestling fans as a cross between The Rock and «Stone Cold» Steve Austin and with fans cheering for him from arena to arena in recent months, he was able to qualify for a match when he defeated Montez. Ford on June 2.
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However, LA Knight’s behavior doesn’t sit well with everyone. The 40-year-old Maryland native has been through the professional wrestling circuit, having spent time in territories affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance, Full Impact Pro and then as a champion in Impact Wrestling before getting a real chance in NXT and then in WWE.
He told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he wasn’t concerned about detractors who say his time has passed.
«It’s never been my time,» he said. «So, I don’t know. But for me, you can think what you want. My time has definitely not passed, I’ll tell you, because with each and every year… first of all, my body is in such good shape as ever.. i’m sure my body is in better shape than 10 years ago.. and people might say, oh, okay, it’s just your platitudes or whatever, but it’s the truth.. just look at the shape I’m taking care of myself… I’ve never had any major injuries (knock on wood). I’ve never had surgeries. And a lot of that comes from the fact that I work in a way that keeps me safe. I make it all make sense. I make it all work I don’t take stupid and unnecessary risks.
«But at the same time, whether you think my time is up or it’s not my time yet, I don’t care. I’m going to do my thing and I’m going to make it my time. None of this is supposed to be my time.» None if this is supposed to be for me I’m not supposed to have the reactions that I have now and am having.
“One of the names he used to call me is ‘The Challenger.’ And that is for many reasons. Part of that is because back in the day, maybe I wasn’t that good with authority, I speak like behind the scenes. And that’s one thing, of course. I’m very passionate about what I do and sometimes that shows its way in anger and that’s just because I’m really into it and I want it to be the best it can be. And if other people have the same feeling about what I do, that’s okay, because I’m going to make you feel one way or another. I’ve made everyone feel that way in one way or another. So whether they want to move me or cheer me up or whatever, I’ll make everyone make noise and that’s what will happen.»
LA Knight got a taste of social media virality a few weeks ago on «Monday Night Raw,» when he came down to address Paul, who had inserted himself into the Monday in the Bank match without going through a qualifying match. Paul has impressed pro wrestling fans with acrobatic moves and has been the talk of the pro wrestling world with appearances at WrestleMania and Royal Rumble.
However, he is not upset that Paul only gives himself the opportunity to win one of the long-awaited matches in WWE. In fact, he welcomes the YouTube sensation and the audience that goes along with it.
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«I see the appeal. I’m not blind or ignorant of any of that because, I mean, obviously, look, you’ve got the reach of all his followers on YouTube and social media and all that stuff,» he said. «I was recently at an event that was a boxing match with all these people who were from YouTube and social media and it was like a whole other world. But here they are and they had a completely packed arena. It’s like, wow, like this it’s a completely different audience.I feel like a lot of those people don’t watch TV.
«So, it’s like, okay, well, now there’s a chance to mix the two. You’ve got your WWE audience and now you’ve got this huge social media audience that he has. So, I can appreciate that and I can see that. And at the same time, you’re talking about six well-qualified guys, they paid the fees to get into Money in the Bank and he just walks in. But at that point it’s also, ‘okay, well, I’ve already given them strike one. I mean, you’re talking Monday night and all of a sudden it’s me just talking trash to him and those clips have been all over the internet. So that’s the first step. Now, we get to Monday in the Bank and it’s time to do the actual damage. And when that gets to your audience, hey, now we’re talking.»
LA Knight’s voice has been the difference in his rise in WWE. His ability to put other pro wrestlers in his place with witty insults along with fans going, «Yeah,» à la, «What?!» by Stone Cold. in the latter part of the Attitude Era and the beginning of the Ruthless Aggression Era in WWE is a call back that clearly resonates with fans hoping to feel that way about professional wrestling again.
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The former Impact World Champion admitted that his character is a mix of cosmic voices from the industry’s legendary past, as well as some from outside the ring.
«Some of them make sense and some of them don’t. I’ve seen people say Macho Man. I’ve seen people say Ric Flair,» he told Fox News Digital. «I’ve seen people say, some weirdos I can’t even remember. But it’s all there, man. When I was in high school, Rock and Austin were our bread and butter. When I was a little kid, (Hulk) Hogan was the deal. Flair has always been a ubiquitous figure when it comes to that. But I mean there are pop culture influences as well, but if you go back into the realm of wrestling, you’re looking at Jake the Snake. There are definitely some influence there. There’s Macho Man, all that kind of stuff.
«It’s never been my time.»
«But people make comparisons and that’s okay. And maybe some people want to say, you know, he’s a dime shop of this, that, or whatever. You can think what you want, but at the end of the day, It’s me doing my thing.» stuff. My talent package is completely different and unique from any of those guys. Is there any influence there? Of course there is. But you look at Hogan and you look at ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham. Is there any influence there? –.
«And then you look even outside of the wrestling sphere, you want to look at Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan? Great. I’ll be the Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan. Hell, maybe I’ll be the Michael Jordan of Kobe Bryant.» We changed it because my goal is not to be below them. My goal is to not just be something where I’m like, ‘Oh yes, my lord. For me, I want to be above and beyond all of that. I want to be the guy that’s in the conversation that he maybe he’s one of the best.»
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If LA Knight is the one to take the briefcase and cash it in, he could try to take down Roman Reigns for his WWE Universal Championship reign that has lasted over 1,000 days. Or, he could give it a go with Seth Rollins, who has been defending his new World Heavyweight Championship all over the place, including in Saturday’s premium live event against Finn Balor. LA Knight could also follow in Austin Theory’s footsteps and instead go for a mid-cartel belt. Could Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship be in jeopardy?
«You’re giving me all some great options here, they all have their positive sides. But if I wrap it up and go ahead and get straight to the point, the best possible story, the best possible outcome for me in my mind, now, whether it comes there or not, first of all, I have to get the case. But for me, it’s being the disruptor,» LA Knight told Fox News Digital.
«And what I mean by that is the guy who not only ends up being WWE Champion, but also ends up being the guy who interrupts a multi-year reign. That’s something to talk about. That’s something that puts a below the belt level. That’s something to possibly prove the point of what I was talking about before I was the best at what I do.»
Money in the Bank will take place at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday. It will be the first major event held in the city since Insurrextion in 2002. The event can be viewed at Peacock starting at 3 pm ET.
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Here is the card for the show:
- Ricochet vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. L.A. Knight vs. Santos Escobar vs. Butch vs. Damian Priest vs. Logan Paul in the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
- Zelina Vega vs. Becky Lynch vs. Zoey Stark vs. Bayley vs. Iyo Sky vs. Trish Stratus in the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
- Cody Rhodes vs. Dominik Mysterio (with Rhea Ripley) in an individual fight.
- Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor in a singles match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
- The Bloodline vs. The Usos in a «Bloodline Civil War» tag team match.
- Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez in a team match for the Women’s Tag Team Championship.
- Gunther (c) vs. Matt Riddle in a singles match for the Intercontinental Championship.